In movies, screenwriters have a big job in how to make a character likable or dislikable. Of course, they have to first develop it enough where the audience can get a full understanding of who they are and what their lives are like. From there, the audience can decide whether or not the character is relatable/likable. Sometimes, people will like a character that others normally wouldn’t, but that’s okay. Personally, I don’t look for certain characteristics in a character for me to like or relate to them. However, there are quite a few characters I can name off of the top of my head that I like a lot. These characters range from lead role to supporting, a protagonist to antagonist, etc. Two of my favorite or most relatable characters include Woody from the Toy Story movies and Erik Killmonger from Black Panther. Each of these characters goes through something in their respective movies. What they go through and how they go through it is what makes them unique to me.
Woody from the Toy Story franchise. The thing that stands out the most as to why Woody is so likable is his character arc throughout all four movies. Throughout the series, Woody’s arc starts with him being the leader of Andy’s toys and being tested when Andy gets a new toy-Buzz Lightyear. In the next movie, Woody is kidnapped by a toy collector and realizes he’s meant for something bigger than being played with all because Woody was the star of an old TV show. This ultimately changes as he is reminded by Buzz that he is a toy. By Toy Story 3, he wants to stick with Andy even though Andy’s going off to college soon. After being found by Bonnie-another kid-at a daycare who takes him home, he realizes that maybe it is time to let Andy go and move on to the next kid. Finally, in Toy Story 4, he finds out that not every kid is going to be like Andy because he’s not the leader of his Bonnie’s toys nor does he get a lot of playing time. By the end of the movie, he has a change of heart and comes to the ultimatum that even if you’re a “lost toy,” you always have a place to belong by actually being a lost toy.
Throughout the entire series, Woody is very loyal. In fact, loyalty is his biggest character trait. He’s been shown to have loyalty to Andy, Bonnie, and leading the toys through whatever they go through. Often times, his loyalty can be a drawback as he has shown to be too loyal. Whether it be to Andy or Bonnie, Woody’s loyalty can lead to a series of events that would’ve been if it weren’t for it. Nonetheless, Woody has always been a standout character to me not just because of his loyalty, but his arc throughout all four Toy Story movies.
As for Killmonger in Black Panther, he’s likable/relatable character because he makes sense to a slight degree. Although he’s a bad guy who has stolen artifacts from museums and almost kills protagonist T’Challa in a challenge for Black Panther, Killmonger had motives that audiences could agree with. He believed that Wakanda, an African country with advanced technology hidden from the rest of the world, should be helping other nations and black people around the world. “Y’all sitting up here comfortable must feel good. It’s about two billion people all over the world that looks like us, their lives are a lot harder. Wakanda has the tools to liberate ‘em all,” Killmonger explains to T’Challa and the elders. Some viewers could notice that his beliefs are similar to that of Nakia, T’Challa’s love interest and Wakanda’s undercover spy. Nakia also believes that Wakanda should be providing aid to countries that need it along with the tools to defend themselves.
Other aspects of Killmonger that make him a likable/relatable character include Michael B. Jordan’s performance execution and the script he was given. Written by Joe Robert Cole and Ryan Coogler (the latter also serving as the director), Jordan gives a performance undoubtingly unforgettable. When Killmonger and T’Challa are watching the sunset before Killmonger dies, he tells T’Challa “[J]ust bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from the ships, because they knew death was better than bondage.” In other words, Killmonger would rather die and buried with the Africans that would rather die than lose their freedoms to the white man. These last words from Killmonger resonate as no other superhero movie would have a villain as complex as him to have such a strong belief as of that. Sources state that Jordan took influence from Civil Rights leaders such as Malcolm X, Huey P. Newton, and Fred Hampton. He also took influence from Heath Ledger’s take on the Joker from The Dark Knight, which was kind of a no brainer since audiences compared Killmonger to that character after seeing Black Panther. Viewers can also see the similar beliefs Killmonger has with the Civil Rights leaders listed above.